Tag runes of magic

If I Could Improve Allods I Would…

Risen Mage

Hey, Gordon, look! Undead underboob! /giggle

You know me, I’m more of a lover than a hater. I’m all about the constructive criticism, man! And since I’ve been busy playing Allods Online the last couple of days, I thought I’d write down some thoughts about what could make the game really great. It is a good game, the writing and the setting have me transfixed! But it could be better, by just improving a few things.

Let’s see, here’s what I’d like to see improved before the game goes from “fake beta” to “launched game”.

Fix the chat interface. Right now it’s hideously clumsy, lacking features like player created chat tabs or custom channels. Just a couple of simple tweaks to bring it up to modern MMO standards. Also, please let us block out shouts. I know you have to use megaphones for it, just like in other F2P-games, but that should be the shouter’s problem – not mine.

Fix a bunch of annoying quests. One of the most annoying quests I’ve encountered so far was Late For Work!, in which I was supposed to pick up three crates of wine for a guard. The only problem was that only three crates spawned, usually right after an enemy spawned two feet away. It was camping galore. You might want to track quests like those before someone rage quits after their umpteenth crate is stolen by a summoner.

Add a quest item tab to the bag, Age of Conan-style. I know you want to sell us bigger bags through the item store, but be nice! Usually a lot of quests point to the same mobs or areas, which is great and all. But the bag has a tendency to fill up really fast, especially when there’s a lot of quest items involved. We got a reagent tab already, a quest item tab would not be too much to ask for would it? It’s 2010, after all!

Risen dance moves!

Me and Massively's Krystalle, rocking it up in Nezebgrad.

Fix the darn cash shop. Yes, it’s only been a few days since it was unveiled and yes, most of those days have been during the weekend. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, I am still playing after all! But stop looking like greedy goblins and make us want to give you money. Be our buddies and sell us cool stuff, everything from vanity items to bag space or things that make travel easier. And don’t even consider that mount with a measly 15% speed increase unless I buy extra food from the item shop. Do you want us to love or hate you?

Now on to one thing I think should stay exactly the same!

Please don’t make leveling faster. It’s good where it is. Fatigue is a pretty odd mechanic, but I haven’t had any trouble with it so far. Don’t bump experience for mob kills, let them stay as low as they are, and don’t increase quest experience either. If all the people complaining about the game being slow leave, Allods will be so much better off. Or I will, at least.

I really like Allods, I do. I think it’s fun, despite the obvious lazy quest for experience grind. But the writing is so good, I can’t believe that the poor devs who obviously put a lot of work into the writing and the world design might get screwed over by the idiots in economics or marketing. If the conspiracy theories mentioned by Keen are correct, I hope the contract between gPotato and Astrum Nival crumbles and someone like Frogster picks up the game. The Runes of Magic cash shop is far from perfect, but it at least makes sense. Also, look at the steady stream of updates that are released for RoM. I think Froster/Runewaker are doing a pretty good job there.

No matter what happens, the future is sure to be interesting for Allods. Will it bomb? Will it soar on the wings of F2P success? Will I ever reach level 10 so I can wear those gloves that dropped off some random mob? Who knows?

But how about you? Anything about Allods you want to fix, or do you just wish that we’d stop talking about it already?

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The art of imitating the art of World of Warcraft

Are you in charge of development of a new fantasy MMO, free-to-play or subscription based (or even both)? Is your game’s artwork very much “inspired” by World of Warcraft? Chances are that it is, so take a long look at this screenshot:

Were gonna eat your face.

We're gonna eat your face.

Can your art-department create characters that look this awesome while still being very much inspired by the boys and girls at Blizzard? If not, sack them and find new ones. Or just skip the whole inspiration-part and do something else. Oh, I don’t know, something a bit more innovative than carbon-copying the art style of the biggest MMO on the block (which you will fervently deny while dodging the whole point).

The above screenshot comes from Allods Online. Allods Online looks a lot like World of Warcraft, but somehow the art-guys at Astrum Nival managed to make their game look really, really good. Some of the concept art is truly fantastic and AO is a pleasure to look at. It’s in closed beta, but a few places might have keys left for it.

Note that I didn’t say anything about gameplay. AO still has to prove its worth in that department.

Update: While I was finishing up this post, Sera’s latest Anti-Aliased column was published at Massively, also touching on a similar subject. Go read!

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Hey, look – I’m actually playing Aion

Yes, it’s true – I decided to shift server, the queues are down, the server cap has been increased. That means I can actually log into Aion and, you know, play…

It’s certainly an improvement. So far, I’m enjoying myself, even though it is still a PvE quest grind fest in the lower levels – at this point it really doesn’t add anything to the genre. I know things will get different when you get into the Abyss and the PvP game begins, which I’m really looking forward to, but even Runes of Magic did “more” for the MMO genre in its first levels than Aion does. To be honest, the saving grace of Aions’ early game is the graphics. They look amazing, I find myself drawn to the world and I’m really happy that the drawing distance has been improved since the first closed beta. Thank you, NCsoft.

I do understand what Sera meant when she said that she didn’t think Aion had a soul, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something is lacking. Hopefully I will be able to find that missing touch as I progress, since I have great hopes for Aion as a good PvP game. Also, my character (pictured above) looks awesome. She is ready to kick some Elyos scum back to whatever sun-infested place they came from. As soon as she’s done grinding for XP, that is…

Major gripe with Aion for the day – the battle music. It’s horrific. That and the fact that people lack imagination – the amount of Warcraft-related names is staggering. How about some strict enforcing of naming policies, NCsoft? Be quick about it, please, you can’t really accept a Legion calling themselves “Frostmourne”, can you? Feel free to just perma-ban all the people who can’t help chatting about World of Warcraft in General chat while you’re at it, it’s such a sad sight.

If you happen to be in a nice Legion on Castor-EU, with mature players and a good sense of humor, feel free to contact me. A large part of the community scares me (I was just told that “asassins [sic] are pro rangers are ghey” in Assassin chat) and I think I will need to hide from it as much as possible, while still hoping to find a Legion with great people that enjoy the PvP Aion has to offer. Why do I play MMOs again? Hmmm, I guess I should save that for another post.

Just to end at a high note – combat in Aion is, at least so far, a lot of fun. It’s fast, the attacks look great and I really like the chain system. But it most certainly isn’t a sandbox game, so I’m not sure if it has the appeal to keep me playing for a long, long time. Then again, I played World of Warcraft for ages, so perhaps I should keep my mouth shut…

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GRTV: F2P-ranting

I get to rant about free-to-play vs subscription based games on camera for 10 minutes. Phew. And yes, it was a really, really bad hair day. It will have to come off!

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Runes of Magic – what to do?

I’m confused. I’m not sure what to do. I’m giving Runes of Magic a proper go for a review, but I’m currently stuck in Logar trying to figure out my next move. It’s not that I don’t know where to go – I’ve already been to Varanas to pick up a second class (went for the rogue/scout combo) and I got a whole bunch of quests for the Barrows to take care of (them kobolds need to die). But the confusion comes from the fact that I’m not sure I’m on the right server or not.

Runes of Magic is most certainly growing on me. It’s a pretty sweet MMO, not very high-budget but it has enough stuff to grab my attention. I’d love to get into a guild and start working on a guild hall/castle and contributing guild runes, decorate my house, sign up for the Windrunner Race and spend some money on diamonds so I can get myself a sweet warhorse to ride around on. The rogue class is fun, although pretty basic, but I’m really starting to enjoy my character. But when I look around at the players that I share Taborea with, I’m not sure that I actually want to stick around.

I have a notebook next to my computer which I use to write down stuff I feel to be important while playing (thoughts on graphics, the system, the writing etc). Today I decided to start a list over the quite incredible names some people have chosen for their characters. After just 10 minutes or so, I had covered a whole page – and that’s only in Logar, Runes of Magic’s first major settlement. I’ve seen my fair share of silly names in games like World of Warcraft and EVE Online, but I’ve never seen this many during such a short amount of time.

A few examples include

  • Gothicgirl
  • Lovelamp
  • Bozotheclown
  • Mhrmmmm
  • Fvfvfvfv
  • Spankalot
  • Barbiegirl
  • Darkrainbow
  • Darkprincess (lots of “dark” going on here, maybe I should introduce them to Gothicgirl)
  • Nummerouno
  • Doyathing
  • Kaffeböna (means “coffee bean” in Swedish)

I do realise that there are a lot of young players in Runes of Magic, players that might not be allowed to have a World of Warcraft-account because of the subscription fee. Since RoM is free to play, this game is pure gold. For us older players that might actually be looking for some form of immersion (there’s that word again)…not so much. I really want to get into Runes of Magic on a deeper level than just appreciating it as a fun game, but with that kind of community, I’m not sure that I will ever be able to.

Maybe I’m just sensitive, I don’t know. I did try to turn off other players’ name tags, but that doesn’t really do it for me either – even though I want to be immersed in the MMOs I play, I also like to see that I’m actually surrounded by other players. So it’s either take the pain, or just stop playing as soon as I’m done with the review – which doesn’t seem fair and isn’t really what I actually want to do.

Thus the confusion. Stay on my current server (Macantacht, PvE) and try to find a guild that can shelter me from all the “Gaykillers” in Taborea (yes, I saw a warrior called “Gaykiller” yesterday) or try to find a guild on another server? If I decide to jump over to a new one, I don’t want to waste any diamonds on a character I’m going to leave behind anyway. But will another server really be any different from this one?

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Runes of Magic, first impressions

The mage. Not a very fun class to play so far.

The mage. Not a very fun class to play so far.

At the same time as my download and patching of Runes of Magic was done this morning, I noticed that Beau had written a post over at Spouse Aggro about the general prejudices against f2p-games. It was a nice read since I was quite eager to give the free to play Runes of Magic a try after reading Saylah’s many posts about the game (especially the post about player owned housing and crafting). I’m a sucker for player owned housing, something most of my friends already know, and since I’m completely burned out on World of Warcraft right now (which is a post in its own right), I started up Runes of Magic with an open mind. I hoped to find a game that, although not as polished as bigger AAA-titles, would be able to charm me.

I didn’t, at least I haven’t found the charm yet. I haven’t played very much of it, granted, but right from the start it felt way too much like a World of Warcraft-clone. Lord of the Rings Online is similar to World of Warcraft in many ways, but it does its own thing at the same time – Runes of Magic looks like a poor man’s version of WoW. Not only is the visual design similar to World of Warcraft, so is the gameplay. So far it has nothing that would convince me to stick with it, except for getting my own house – and I might as well play Everquest II for that.

O'RLY?

O'RLY?

I don’t mind the RMT at all, I actually think that it’s a good idea in games like Runes of Magic. What I do mind is that I can’t help feel that Runewaker and Frogster come across as quite greedy when there is no option to buy permanent pets (at this point). At first I thought that the same thing went for the mounts, but luckily it didn’t – there are both time limited mounts and permanent ones. But there is just no way that I’m going to pay real money for a pet that will disappear after 30 days.

And please, don’t even get me started on the thong the female rogues start out with…

I will keep logging in now and again. After all, it is still in open beta and there’s no reason to cancel an account for a game that is free to play or to uninstall it until I need the space on my hard drive. Perhaps it will get better as time goes by (just adding in all the missing sounds would instantly make it a lot better). Perhaps rogues will get real pants. Perhaps the greatest challenge is getting through the starter areas. Perhaps the challenge is to be around players with names like “Slipknotroxx” without going crazy.

First of all I need to reroll before getting deeper into the game. The mage wasn’t all that fun to play. I hope I will be able to find a class that I instantly like. If it wasn’t for the questionable fashion sense of Taborea’s female rogues, and that I’ve played one for years, I’d probably go for that. But I guess that the typical warrior/priest-combo or a more experimental class combination (warrior/scout?) might do the trick for me. We’ll see.

Do I recommend you to check out Runes of Magic? Of course, it’s free and you might instantly like it. But if you are looking for a new MMO to keep you occupied until Ulduar hits the live WoW-realms, I think you should look elsewhere.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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